Training Day: Uno
It’s my first day of work and my first time meeting Andrew, my field partner for the season. He’s a tall, well-mannered, young fella who grew up in a small town outside of St. Louis but just moved with his wife to Casper, Wyoming. His wife just finished a six-year pharmacy program and he is finishing his masters thesis on garter snake locomotion. Since pharmacists pretty much have their pick of places to live and Andrew has always wanted to live in the west, she found a job in Casper and they boldly moved there, just a few weeks ago, sight-unseen. He’s thrilled with the location and seems to be happy with the way things are turning out–now he just has to finish up his thesis while he’s here. Andrew reminds me of a hybrid between two previous field partners: one I worked with in Yellowstone back in 2006 (Dave) and one worked with me at James Baird State Park tracking turtles (Kevin). Kevin and Dave are both awesome so I’m blessed to be working with their near hybrid-doppelganger. My original partner for the season backed out at the last-minute and I’m so glad she did. Finding a good field partner–one you can depend on with your life–is a crap-shoot, especially when someone else interviews them. It feels like an arranged marriage of sorts and you hope your arranger likes you well enough to set you up with someone good. I’ve had my share of bad partners and I know already that Andrew will not be in that category. Thank you Deb!
Most of the day was spent filing out paperwork, touring the area, obtaining our employee pub pass (oh yeah!), and bear training. I love bear training. This is when the resident bear expert relishes the opportunity to scare the crap out of the seasonal employees who are mandated to attend. He usually shows up looking like he was mauled (this time he got hit in the face with a softball) and proceeds to tell you about the various ways to get attacked and avoid being attacked in the Park. The list of what not to do includes hiking off trail and being in groups of less than three–both things Andrew and I will be doing on a daily basis. By mid-presentation you are terrified. Then he tries to make you feel better by showing you a list of all the ways to die in Yellowstone along with their statistics. The stats show that murder, falling trees, bison, Indian attacks, car crashes, and lightening (all the things you have absolutely no control over) are far more common ways to die in Yellowstone. The end result is that you walk away afraid of just about everything except bears!